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Boeotarches

Βοιωτάρχης). The Boeotians in ancient times occupied Arné in Thessaly (Thuc.i. 12). Sixty years after the taking of Troy they were expelled by the Thessalians, and settled in the country then called Cadmeis, but afterwards Boeotia. The leader of the Boeotians was King Opheltas. It would seem that their kings ruled the whole country from Thebes. Later on, the country was divided into several States, containing each a principal city, with its allies and dependants. The number and names of these independent States are differently given by different writers on the subject; we know, however, for certain that they formed a confederacy called the Boeotian League, with Thebes at its head, and Freeman is of opinion that the political union grew out of an older Amphictyony. Common sanctuaries were the temple of the Itonian Athené near Coronea, where the Pamboeotia were celebrated, and the Temple of Poseidon in Onchestus. Thucydides (iv. 93) mentions seven independent States: Thebes, Haliartus, Coronea, Copae, Thespiae, Tanagra, and Orchomenus; and we learn from inscriptions that, at one time or other, the following belonged to the same class: Anthedon, Lebadea, Hyettus, Acraephia, Chorsia (or Korsia, Demosth. F. L. 141, etc.), Thisbé, Chaeronea. O. Müller (Orchom. p. 403) supposes there were originally fourteen free States. Probably the number differed at different times.

Each of the principal towns of Boeotia seems to have had its δῆμος and βουλή. The βουλή was presided over by an archon, who probably had succeeded to the priestly functions of the old kings, but possessed little, if any, executive authority. The polemarchs, who, in treaties and agreements, are mentioned next to the archon, had some executive authority, but did not command forces—e. g. they could imprison, and they directed the levies of troops. But, besides the archon of each separate State, there was an archon of the confederacy —ἄρχων ἐν κοινῷ Βοιωτῶν—most probably always a Theban. His name was affixed to all alliances and compacts which concerned the whole confederacy, and he was president of what Thucydides calls the four councils, who directed the affairs of the league (ἅπαν τὸ κῦρος ἔχουσι). On important questions they seem to have been united; for the same author speaks of them as βουλή, and informs us that the determinations of the Boeotarchs required the ratification of this body before they were valid. We may now explain who these Boeotarchs were. They were properly the military heads of the confederacy, chosen by the different States; but we also find them discharging the functions of an executive in various matters. In fact, they are represented by Thucydides as forming an alliance with foreign States; as receiving ambassadors on their return home; as negotiating with envoys from other countries, and acting as the representatives of the whole league, though the βουλή refused to sanction the measures they had resolved on in the particular case to which we are now alluding. Another instance in which the Boeotarchs appear as executive is their interference with Agesilaüs, on his embarking from Aulis for Asia (B.C. 396), when they prevented him offering sacrifice as he wished. Still, the principal duty of the Boeotarchs was of a military nature: thus, they led into the field the troops of their respective States; and when at home they took whatever measures were requisite to forward the military operations of the league or of their own State. For example, we read of one of the Theban Boeotarchs ordering the Thebans to come in arms to the ecclesia for the purpose of being ready to attack Plataea. Each State of the confederacy elected one Boeotarch, the Thebans two, although on one occasion—i. e. after the return of the exiles with Pelopidas (B.C. 379)—we read of there being three at Thebes. The total number from the whole confederacy varied with the number of the independent States. Mention is made of the Boeotarchs by Thucydides, in connection with the battle of Delium (B.C. 424). There is, however, a difference of opinion with respect to his meaning: some understand him to speak of eleven, some of twelve, and others of thirteen Boeotarchs. Dr. Arnold is disposed to adopt the last number; and we think the context is in favour of the opinion that there were then thirteen Boeotarchs, so that the number of free States was twelve. At the time of the battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371), we find seven Boeotarchs mentioned; on another occasion, when Greece was invaded by the Gauls (B.C. 279), we read of four. Livy states that there were twelve, but before the time (B.C. 171) to which his statement refers Plataea had been reunited to the league. Still the number mentioned in any case is no test of the actual number, inasmuch as we are not sure that all the Boeotarchs were sent out by their respective states on every expedition or to every battle.

The Boeotarchs, when engaged in military service, formed a council of war, the decisions of which were determined on by a majority of votes, the president being one of the two Theban Boeotarchs who commanded alternately. Their period of service was a year, beginning about the winter solstice; and whoever continued in office longer than his time was punishable with death both at Thebes and in other cities. Epaminondas and Pelopidas did so on their invasion of Laconia (B.C. 369), but their eminent services saved them; in fact, the judges did not even come to a vote respecting the former (οὐδὲ ἀρχὴν περὶ αὐτοῦ θέσθαι τὴν ψῆφον). At the expiration of the year, a Boeotarch was eligible to office a second time, and Pelopidas was repeatedly chosen. From the case of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, who were brought before Theban judges (δικασταί) for transgression of the law which limited the time of office, we may conclude that each Boeotarch was responsible to his own State alone, and not to the general body of the four councils.

Mention is made by Livy of an election of Boeotarchs. He further informs us that the league (concilium) was broken up by the Romans B.C. 171. Still, it must have been partially revived, as we are told of a second breaking-up by the Romans after the destruction of Corinth, B.C. 146. See Freeman, Hist. of Federal Government (1893), and Ten Breujel, De Foedere Boeotico (Groningen, 1834).

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